Facing an acute shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, the Odisha government on Monday decided to float a global tender for procuring the vaccine to inoculate the states entire population, Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra said. The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
The Cabinet also allowed the state government to exert pressure on the Centre for exemption of taxes like GST on
COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and equipment required for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
“It is felt that complete vaccination is the best way to protect precious lives of the people. Therefore, the Cabinet allowed the state government to go for global tender and get vaccines at the earliest," Mohapatra said.
He said that a technical committee will soon be formed to suggest the state government on how to procure the best
quality vaccines being made by leading manufacturers across the world.
The technical committee will also suggest the state government on measures to be taken to protect life, livelihood
and return of normalcy, the chief secretary said.
Since the state government has been spending crores of rupees from its own resources for testing, tracing and
treating people affected by COVID-19, the Cabinet felt that the Centre should share with it the amount collected as cess and surcharge from petrol, diesel and other items.
“The state’s economy should support the expenditure being done on COVID-19 detection and treatment. Therefore,
exemption of taxes and share in the cess and surcharges being collected by the Union Government is most essential,"
Mohapatra said quoting the Cabinet decision.
The Cabinet also discussed the situation of Israel where most of its population has been vaccinated for which
normalcy has returned to that country, Mohapatra said.
The vaccination has helped in checking the spread of infection among health care workers and frontline workers in
Odisha, Mohapatra said.
“If at all vaccinated people get the infection, the intensity is very less," he said.
Vaccination is a must as nobody knows how many waves will hit the state, the senior official said.
The Cabinet also thanked the Covid Warriors who have been working day in and day out risking their own lives.
It also thanked the people at large who have all along supported and abided by the COCID-19 protocol which helped
contain the spread of the virus.
Till May 9, as many as 61,52,215 vaccine doses have been administered to the people of the state, a senior health
department official said.
However, the inoculation programme was affected due to a shortage of vaccines supplied by the central government.
The state has several times raised the issue at the national level, but the problem continued to hamper the
vaccination process, the official said.